Golden Spiral at work

Golden Spiral at work in the Ukraine

I found this great article on the Guardian about how some quick pictures of a brawl at an Ukrainian Courthouse has amazing composition, rivaling the composition of renaissance artists like Michelangelo and Da Vinci. An artist named James Harvey explained why the composition is so strong by overlaying a golden spiral onto the picture.

It’s difficult to compose a picture with the golden spiral in mind, since there’s often a lot of elements to carefully arrange in order for the spiral to make sense…. but why not emphasize the golden spiral in the post processing stage? Use it as a compositional / cropping tool? I decided to play around with this image I took the other day that I was having a hard time finding a suitable composition for:

tim Lewis photography eugene Oregon Portrait Spiral Golden

Overlaying a golden spiral onto it, I wound up with this:

tim Lewis photography eugene Oregon Portrait Spiral Golden

Then I used Dodging and Burning to darken and brighten areas according to the spiral:

tim Lewis photography eugene Oregon Portrait Spiral Golden

And I wound up with this, which does have a much better sense of flow and composition to it:

 

 

tim Lewis photography eugene Oregon Portrait Spiral Golden

All in all, I like it. Using the golden spiral in this way is a fun and simple way to vary up your composition from the usual rule-of-thirds that most photographers stick to. I might have to work the spiral more in the future. I think it could be especially useful in really layered compositions and multi-image composites. Fun stuff.